Reflections on Art: A Source Book of Writings by Artists, Critics, and Philosophers

By Susanne K. Langer | Go to book overview
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Music and Silence.

GISÈLE BRELET

MUSIC AND SOUND cannot be pure surface show, inert data imposing themselves upon us from the outside: their whole being is in their action, since they live only by their perpetual rebirth. Hence they exist only by virtue of their unceasing victory over that silence which they embrace in order always to conquer anew their fragile and immaterial being, and to oblige the listener to participate in the inner act by which they are defined.

Sound is an event: by its coming it breaks an original silence, and it ends in a final silence. And music, like sound, projects its form upon a background of silence which it always presupposes. Music is born, develops, and realizes itself within silence: upon silence it traces out its moving arabesques, which give a form to silence, and yet do not abolish it. A musical work, like all sonority, unfolds between two silences: the silence of its birth and the silence of its completion. In this temporal life where music perpetually is born, dies and is born again, silence is ever its faithful companion...

IF MUSIC, which is a becoming, is to live, it must be incarnate in ordinary time; but it is not to be confused with such time. The

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